Final Fantasy VI Grand Finale holds the distinction of being based on what many (including myself) consider the greatest original game soundtrack yet created. Not coincidentally it was also my very first arranged game soundtrack. So the album came with high expectations, and though rarely does it live up to them, it's still a respectable orchestral effort that fans should consider - with an open mind towards some artistic changes.
About half of the arrangements I find comparable in sound and quality to the classic original soundtrack. "The Mystic Forest", "Troops March On" and "Kids Run Through The City Corner" follow their original game versions closely and sound great with real orchestral instruments. "Cefca" has more noticeable changes, but these follow the spirit of the OSV closely. The highlight of the album, "Opening Theme ~ Tina", adapts the original's instrumentation to orchestra perfectly, while adding some very dramatic original material of its own. (Note that both it and "The Mystic Forest" are completely different, more ambitious arrangements than the more recent ones from the Distant Worlds series.)
The changes in several other tracks, however, will likely be hard for all but the most opening-minded FFVI fans to accept. The most perplexing is "Relm", an almost perfect rendition ruined by blaring, abrasive lead bagpipes that completely contrast the character and her original theme. "Gau" is a nicely done arrangement, but in losing the original's lead cello in favor of Baroque violins and harpsichord, it also loses the original's poignancy. "Mistery Train" is another admirable artistic effort, but the arrangement's frantic violin-piano duo completely foregoes the spooky charm of the original.
I have to credit the arrangers for having artistic vision when embellishing these compositions. I remember when I first got the album, listening intently to tracks like "Opening Theme ~ Tina" and imagining my own Final Fantasy VI movie as the music progressed. Fond memories, to be sure. Yet for every track that amplifies the narrative and dramatic quality of the original music, there's another that seems to disregard it altogether. The results are too mixed to consider the album an ideal Final Fantasy VI arranged collection, but it's still an admirable artistic effort that fulfills its potential often enough to make it worth consideration.